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Tax professionals welcome solution to information overload

Publication date: 10 Oct 00 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

The enormous volume of tax legislation, explanatory memorandum and rulings which the Government has released as part of the biggest reform of Australia's taxation system is overwhelming and tax professionals and businesses are desperately searching for more efficient ways to analyse, interpret and implement changes for their clients, according to Taxation Institute President, Mr Ray Conwell.

"Last year, the Government passed over 70 tax and superannuation bills amounting to an estimated 5 million words. In addition, by 31 December 1999, the courts had handed down 95 tax decisions, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 61 decisions and the ATO had released 21 draft Rulings, 103 draft Tax Determinations, 14 draft GST Rulings, 104 Product Rulings and 6 Sales tax Determinations."

"A key example of the huge volume of information tax professionals are forced to wade through in order to comply with Government legislation is the BAS Statement - a two page summary document which is accompanied by a 180 page Instructional Booklet," he said.

Tax professionals are also concerned by the rumoured volume of legislation yet to be released concerning the reform of Australia's business tax system.

"If the rumours around Canberra are to be believed, practitioners can expect between 500 and 1000 pages of legislation to be released as part of the business tax reform program. It is likely that the associated Explanatory Memorandum will be around the same size," Mr Conwell said.

"For some practitioners with clients who are entities with substituted accounting periods, this legislation will need to be digested and applied from January 1, 2001.....less than three months away," he said.

The Taxation Institute of Australia is very aware of the time practitioners spend on research in order to provide their clients with the most up to date and accurate tax advice. Over the past year, the Institute has applied considerable resources to identifying the key information problem areas and designing efficient and cost effective means of assisting the industry to solve these issues.

"One way for practitioners to cope with this vast array of critical tax information is via a specialised research facility. Such a facility can reduce searching and research time enabling the practitioner to spend more time advising clients, particularly smaller businesses who are likely to be facing the greatest challenges in the wake of changes to GST and PAYG legislation," Mr Conwell said.

"Specialised research facilities also enable practitioners to reduce the fees that they are forced to charge to recoup their time in researching complex issues, thus allowing businesses also to reduce the cost of complying with the legislation."

" is the result of the Taxation Institute's efforts to find the solution to this nightmare ,' he said.

"Practitioners can search by key word and once they log onto the site, the intelligent network will track their topic choices and information searches and display additional resources on the home page under a topic called 'Institute recommendations for you'. This new research facility will also deliver online Continuing Professional Development via video streaming which will enable all practitioners, whether you are in Leichhardt, Lillydale or Longreach to attend the same education sessions presented by leaders in the industry."

" represents a solution for practitioners struggling to keep up - its fast, its intelligent and its available to practitioners, businesses and anyone with an interest in tax."

"In an environment which is continually changing and throwing up new challenges for the tax practitioner, this specialised facility is must," he said.